Manufacturing a Boeing 787 aircraft wing out of carbon fiber is no easy task. It requires working with laminates that must be bonded together to create a single, strong piece. This creates several challenges that add to the time and expense of fabricating with carbon fiber.
Those same challenges are primarily responsible for keeping the automotive industry from embracing composite materials. Dealing with laminates is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Putting as much carbon fiber into a car as Boeing puts into an airplane would make the car too expensive for the mass-market.
Rock West Composites, a composite materials and prototyping provider based in Salt Lake City, explains that the industry is working hard to overcome the challenges. Once overcome, composite prices should come down.
The Labor Challenge
Laminate parts are made from multiple layers of fabric impregnated with an epoxy resin. Using the Boeing 787 as an example, a single wing …